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Johnson Outdoors changes affect Maine jobs

July 13, 2012

A move by Johnson Outdoors to consolidate and streamline its operations in Old Town will mean some job cuts in Maine. The Wisconsin-based company, which makes Old Town canoes and kayaks, said Wednesday it will move R&D and marketing for its Watercraft division from Bellingham, Wash., to Old Town over the next year, consolidating all U.S. Watercraft personnel in one location.

The company also said it will streamline operations in Old Town between its Watercraft and Outdoor Gear divisions, cutting 17 U.S. jobs, according to a press release. It's unclear how many of those jobs are in Maine. CEO Helen Johson-Leipold said the company last fall combined the two units to help return Watercraft to profitability, and that the recent restructuring will speed up new product development.

The changes are expected to save the company $2 million annually by the end of 2014, while the cost of implementing the changes will be between $2 million and $2.5 million over the next year.

In 2009, Johnson Outdoors celebrated the consolidation of plastic-boat manufacturing in Old Town, after it closed a plant in Washington and moved work to Maine. That move created 48 new jobs in Old Town. At that time, the facility employed 200.

The company is also restructuring its European operations, which will impact 11 overseas jobs.